Tough choice for jury as Cannes curtain comes down
By Mike Collett-White and Nick Vinocur
CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival jury led by Robert De Niro faces a tough choice on Sunday as it picks the winner of the Palme d'Or top prize, with movies from Finland, Spain, the United States and France all in the frame.
Guessing the winner of the world's biggest cinema showcase, overshadowed this year by the shock exit of Danish director Lars Von Trier for joking that he was a Nazi, is notoriously tricky.
The race in 2011 is seen as unusually open-ended, however, with U.S. maverick Terrence Malick a slight favorite for his metaphysical epic "The Tree of Life" starring Brad Pitt.
Also heavily favored by Cannes' notoriously picky critics are Finnish film maker Aki Kaurismaki's comedy "Le Havre," silent, black-and-white romance "The Artist" from France and Spaniard Pedro Almodovar's thriller "The Skin I Live In."
A further five movies won passionate, though not unanimous support, underlining how this year's selection has upped the ante after some disappointing competitions in recent years.
"My choice for Palme d'Or would be Aki Kaurismaki's 'Le Havre', with Pedro Almodovar's 'The Skin I Live In' and the Dardenne brothers' 'Kid With A Bike' runners-up," said Mike Goodridge, editor of movie publication Screen.
"My betting is that a Robert De Niro-led jury will go for 'The Tree Of Life'," he added.
In addition to the films, the A-listers came out in force, the parties were loud and lavish and the giant market saw bustling trade in signs that the financial crisis that dampened recent festivals was finally fading from view. Continued...